To Get Personalised contents and be able to add items to your favourites, please Sign In or Sign Up          

Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS)

Encyclopedia » Places » Government


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region.


Considered one of the pillars of the African Economic Community, the organization was founded in order to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. It also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region.The organization operates officially in three co-equal languages—English, French, and Portuguese.

The ECOWAS consists of two institutions to implement policies, the ECOWAS Secretariat and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, formerly known as the Fund for Cooperation until it was renamed in 2001. James Victor Gbeho, the Advisor to the President of Ghana on Foreign Affairs, currently serves as the President of the commission. The current chairman is President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.

A few members of the organization have come and gone over the years. In 1976 Cape Verde joined ECOWAS, and in December 2000 Mauritaniawithdrew, having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.


The Heads of State and Government broke with the past by their decision to transform the ECOWAS Secretariat into a Commission. The difference goes beyond a name change and an increase in the number of officers at the management level. After thirty years of existence, ECOWAS finds itself at a cross-roads.  At thirty, ECOWAS has come of age, is mature and master of its destiny.

Changes have already been underway with the support of development partners. These initiatives have been boosted by the Heads of State and Government when they endorsed institutional transformation covering all ECOWAS Institutions. 

By implementing this transformation process which should reposition ECOWAS vis-a-vis the West African populations to whom pledges have been made, the leaders of our region have taken the destiny of their institution into their own hands. Indeed, by subscribing to the vision of the Founder-fathers of ECOWAS, they have taken ownership of the objectives designed to improve the living conditions of the citizenry, ensure economic growth and create an environment conducive to development and integration.

By becoming a Commission with enhanced powers and Commissioners in charge of smaller and clearly defined sectors, the ECOWAS Secretariat will have more impact and become more visible in Member States.

Regarding the Community Parliament, the restructuring is designed to make it more efficient by providing it with relevant management support. Similarly, the Community Court of Justice is being re-organized to have its judges also concentrate on their core competences.

The expected changes will not be possible without the support of the staff of our institutions. The task is huge; hence, the need for everyone to get involved in its implementation.

The Heads of State and Government urged every one of us to participate in the rebirth of our institution to ensure that development and integration soon become a reality.



Current members

 Burkina Faso
 Cape Verde
 Côte d'Ivoire
 Sierra Leone


ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: West African Economic and Monetary Union


The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known as UEMOA from its name in French, Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine) is an organization of eight West African states. It was established to promote economic integration among countries that share the CFA franc as a common currency. UEMOA was created by a Treaty signed at Dakar, Senegal, on 10 January 1994, by the heads of state and governments of Benin,Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. On 2 May 1997, Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, became the organization’s eighth (and only non-Francophone) member state.

UEMOA is a customs union and currency union between the members of ECOWAS. Its objectives include the following:

  • Greater economic competitiveness, through open markets, in addition to the rationalization and harmonization of the legal environment
  • The convergence of macro-economic policies and indicators
  • The creation of a common market
  • The coordination of sectoral policies
  • The harmonization of fiscal policies

Among its achievements, the UEMOA has successfully implemented macro-economic convergence criteria and an effective surveillance mechanism. It has adopted a customs union and common external tariff and has combined indirect taxation regulations, in addition to initiating regional structural and sectoral policies. A September 2002 IMF survey cited the UEMOA as "the furthest along the path toward integration" of all the regional groupings in Africa

ECOWAS and UEMOA have developed a common plan of action on trade liberalization and macroeconomic policy convergence. The organizations have also agreed on common rules of origin to enhance trade, and ECOWAS has agreed to adopt UEMOA’s customs declaration forms and compensation mechanisms











Article Credit:

Updated 6 Years ago

Find Us On Facebook

Tags:     ECOWAS     West Africa     Economic Integration